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tv   Consider This  Al Jazeera  October 22, 2013 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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good evening everyone. welcome to al jazeera america. i'm john siegenthaler. here is a look at the top stories - two reports criticise the united states for the widespread use of drones to kill suspected militants, and which have killed innocent civilians. amnesty international and human rights watch say deadly strikes in yemen and pakistan violate international law and could be classified as war crimes. . john kerry says reports of a rift between the united states and saudi arabia are overblown. the secretary of state is talking about comments made by the saudi intelligence chief who says the arab nation is shifting
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away from american policies. john kerry says the comments were made before a meeting with the saudi arabia foreign minister, and things are fine. >> the u.s. denies that it's spying on french citizens. in a statement released the director of national intelligence says: a french newspaper reported about u.s. intelligence operations in france, said the nsa collected millions of calls from business people, politicians, suspected terrorists. "consider this" is this with antonio mora. i'll see you back here at 11 eastern time. [ ♪ theme ]
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>> the blowback from drone strikes. human rights groups say they are killing more civilians than the obama administration admits. that could cause problems abroad. "consider this" is the u.s. becoming more feared in some countries than al qaeda. would not using drones backfire. >> also the fascinating storey of a teen turn extremist who turned again as an adult to fight out against jihadist. and why america should be in a race against time to fix glaring errors. >> a look at anti-conspiracy buildings with brad meltzer - did bobby kennedy take his brother. how long was the federal bureau of investigation tracking lee harvey oswald before the asass nation. i'm antonio mora. we begin with drones, an important tool on the war on terror, without putting american
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soldiers in danger. two reports say the unmanned aircraft unleashed missiles and often kill civilians, not just terrorists. we report on the battle over this modern warfare weapon. >> we found in some cases it killed civilians. >> human rights watch, and amnesty international's joint report demand the u.s. end its secrecy surrounding drone strikes. in pakistan's north waz earise stan amnesty international investigated 45 strokes from january 2012 to august 2013. it cited cases like that of a 68-year-old grandmother. >> her grandchildren recounted the moment she was blown into pieces in front of their eyes. >> her granddaughter was filmed by the group as an eyewitness. >> human rights watch also carried out research on six specific air strikes in yemen
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inns 2009. >> the u.s.'s only publicly acknowledged two of the three strikes - those that have killed americans. it's as if the hundreds of yemenies killed in the attacks simple never existed. >> tuesday's report comes after two recent u.n. reports on drones, one of which indicated that as many as 450 civilians may have been killed in u.s. drone strikes during the last decade. >> u.s. counterterrorism operations are precise, lawful and effective. >> white house spokesman jay carney said the it administration disagreed with the claims and cited a speech by president obama made last may. >> he addressed why the united states may choose to under take strikes used by loans. he said conventional airpour or missiles are less precise. >> nawaz sharif is in the in u.s. scheduled to meet with
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president obama on wednesday. a vocal critic of the drone program, he called for the u.s. to end the drone strikes, saying they imposed a major impediment to relations with the u.s. >> joining me now for more on the reports on drones are letta taylor, the senior counterterrorism researcher at human rights watch. she authored the report entitled "between the drone and al-qaeda", and michael lewis, a navy pilot who testified before congress on drones and is a professor at the ohio northern university, pettit college of law. he is in the colombus ohio studio. thank you both for joining us. >> letta, in your report you write some in yemen fear the u.s. more than al-qaeda. you say when the u.s. government is considered more of a demon than a notorious terror group
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there's a problem. has it got that bad? >> yes, i think so. in yemen many feel that the u.s. is then my because drone strikes are in some cases killing civilians. whereas al qaeda in the arabian peninsula is careful to not kill civilians. i'd like to emphasise that i'm not saying this is an endorsement of al qaeda in the arabian peninsula, we consider the group a serious threat. we do understand that the united states needs to do all it can to protect america from strikes by this group. so that is not our issue at all. our issue is that in some cases the u.s. is unlawfully killing civilians in the strikes, and when it does so, it needs to acknowledge and take responsibility for these killings. >> let's have a look at the numbers. last year, in 2012, the bureau
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of investigative journalism found 132 to 153 total drone strikes in pakistan and yemen this year. so far there has been 47 in those countries. as for casualties in pakistan and yemen, last year, between 431 and 1102, this year 2010, 313, a big difference this year. >> the issue has never been the volume of strikes, but the legalitiy of strikes. so the fact that the numbers are going down may indicate that it's a lull, it's a new trend. it's too soon to know. we don't take issue with the number of strike, as long as they are lawful. we do not consider drones to be unlawful in and of themselves, it's how they are used. we would be making the same kind of statements were it any other
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form of weapon, if the afacts in some cases were unlawfully killing civilians. >> let's address the legality. what is the issue, these are people who are - the drones are going after people that the united states believes are intending to kill americans. is it not self-defence to go after them? >> well, there's the defense argument in part, and the other thing is there's a war in yemen between the yemeni government and al qaeda and the arabian peninsula. they have chromed -- controlled up to a quarter of the country, 1.3 million having sharia law imposed upon them. fighting comes to a standstill. >> what about the legality of drone strikes? we are inviting another country's sovereignty by dropping bombs in pakistan and yemen.
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is that legal? >> the yemeni government asked us to be in there. they are involved in a civil war, it's not an invasion of their sovereignty to be invited in to do that. the strikes in yemen are largely - they are legal because you are talking about targetting al qaeda and the arabian peninsula members. all the strikes mentioned in this report killed al qaeda and the arabian pieninsula members, in bigger numbers... >> the drones in pakistan, where the pakistani government in many case, if not most, have not wanted us to use drones. >> that is true. >> what is the legality there. is there a legal argument to drop missiles in pakistan? >> yes. if pakistan is unable or unwilling to prevent the forces in the border regions of
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pakistan to come across the region and attack u.s. troops and afghan troops, we are within our rights to do something about that. as you said, you said self-defense. that, or using the unable or unwilling standard. they were unwilling to do anything about osama bin laden, so we were within our rights to go in and do something about him ourselves. >> i'll let you. >> yes, if i may jump in for a moment first. yes, absolutely the yemeni government, the counter president embraces the program. there's question about whether he has the authority to allow the u.s. in, because he's a transitional figure, a transitional president. nevertheless, we don't take issue with that. we have not stated that we believe that yemen's sovereignty is being violated. our issue is not whether the
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u.s. has the right to carry out the attacks in yemen. our issue is is the u.s. following the law in the strikes, and in cases when civilians are killed, we want to see recognition, we want to see people prosecuted if wrongdoing was found in investigations, and we want to see compensation. in terms of the six cases we investigated - one in particular did - there were two that indiscrim nantly killed civilians. in one case a u.s. drone-assisted strike hit a passenger van killing 12 of the 14 people inside. all of them were villagers coming home from market, including a pregnant woman and three children. the bodies were dusted with sugar and flower that they were bringing home. their charred bodies were found on the roadside, dusted in the fashion. the target of the strike was
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nowhere in sight or even on that stretch of road at the moment. this is the kind of strike that we think should be investigated, and we feel strikes like that, this particular one wiped out bread winners for 50 villages in a poor part of one of the poorest countries in the world. those families are entitled to know why the u.s. killed their loved ones and are entitled to some kind of compensation. >> the u.s. is not open enough, do you think, about what it's doing, and it needs to be more transparent. >> absolutely. we think that the u.s. says trust us, we are not breaking the law in these strikes. what we say is, "great, if you have nothing to hide, show us the evidence so that we not just have nongovernmental organization, but the public as a hole and the relatives of those killed can judge what
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happened, and help determine were some of these strikes unlawful. if they were people should be held accountable and the u.s. taking steps to ensure that it is not unyou lawfully killing civilians. >> michael, do you think the u.s. should be more open and there should be prosecution if the intention was good and they were trying to kill a terrorist and made a mistake? >> well, the legal standard is that you would have to show that they knew civilians were going to be killed or failed to take feasible precautions to prevent civilians being killed in the strikes. and if they failed to take such precautions or knew that civilians were going to be at risk, then conceivably prosecutions would be warranted. i think that it's incumbent - it's important to know what exactly was known by the people that were ordering the strikes at the time the strikes were carried out. >> so the question then becomes
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whether we should be more open. i want to get to another question - two questions. one is that using drones can kill civilians, and obviously something we want to avoid at all possible costs. on the other hand, is there not the danger that if we went after the terrorists with american troops, that we might have more civilians killed? >> casualty figures can vary with any kind of war situation. i don't think we can go into the hypotheticals. our issue is not the drones. we do not have an issue with drones at all. it may be that - in fact, we favour drones over many other kinds of weapons, such as cluster ammunition, which were used in one strike in yemen by the u.s., which are - which are - cannot distinguish by definition between one target and - a target and civilians. we don't have an issue at all
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with drones. we are not saying it should be boots on the ground or drones. we say follow the laws of war if this is a legitimate armed conflict. if so that means the u.s. under the laws of war has a legal obligation to investigate potentially unlawful strikes and hold those accountable. >> let me let michael have the last word. you have referred to drones as being a human type of warfare and are concerned about american boots on the ground in somalia where navy seals were in danger as opposed to using drone strikes against those involved in the nair oby kenyan mall attack. >> i'm concerned about the american boots on the ground and civilians. if you look at the numbers from human rights watch or other organizations that study this - the percentage of civilians killed by drones is in the low
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single dig its. compared to countersurge sis, israel hezbollah, israel-hamas and others, 50, 60% killed were civilians. the fact that the united states can bring the numbers into the low single digits by using drops, by anybody's numbers is a remarkable feat, considering you are fighting an enemy that doesn't wear yun forms, hides amongst the civilian population and uses human shields. yes, i think that drones are the cause of many civilian casualtyise than other warfare. >> it's a difficult issue. i have to leave it there. thank you for joining us to discuss this. >> coming up - another school shooting shocks america. why is the shooter almost always
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a boy and why almost always in public schools. >> and harmeli aregawi is tracking our stop stories on the web. what is trending. >> it is incredible what people will do for money. an underground network of young people are lending their bodies and minds to science in exchange for dollar bills. i'll share that with you. what do you think? join the conversation: :
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the nightmare of bullets flying at a school terrorise the another school on monday. the shooting at sparks middle school is the 10th. all but one of the shooters were boys, and all but one in public schools - none in a big city. this is a recurring pattern among school shootings in america. why? we are joined by ron avi astor from los angeles, a professor of social work and
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education at the university of southern california, and dr casey jordan joins us in the studio. she's a criminalologist and law professor at western connecticut state university. thank you both for joining us. the shooter in monday's school shooting in nevada was a young boy. we are seeing in just the overwhelming amount of cases it's always boys. why? >> it has a lot to do with the way we socialise young men in the culture. girls are raised to be seen and not heard. if they are in main they internalise it. they tend to be cutters and prone to promise cuous sex or drinking or alcohol abuse. in boys we tend to have this act out in violence and say, "boys will be boys." they model their before.
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while boys and girls play violent video games, it's the boys that tend to be socialised to act out on their frustration, where girls are supposed to swallow it and take it out on themselves >> it's rare to see girls and mass shootings where a lot of people are shot. >> ron, police said the shooter in this case was it 12 years old. in the past, the bigger ones, columbine, sandy hook, shooters are older. are we seeing a worrisome trend about school shooters and younger ages? >> no, they are happening more recently with younger, as you mentioned. historically we had situations where kids as young as 6 or 7 shot other classmates. in kentucky or petucca and oregon happened with younger and older ones. i don't think it's a trend, but
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it is a concern at any age >> something that seems to be a trend or the rule is that shootings seem not to happen in urban areas where you expect there to be more crime. it's not new york city or los angeles or chicago where the shootings happen in schools. it's happening in suburban areas in small towns. why is that. >> understand in the urban areas, there's a code of the streets. if there's a beef you get it out on the streets. the fist fight without gun, where people work out their differences in real time. it's more common in an urban basketball court. when you go to the small town you are talking about kids that are isolated and in the social norm. they are on the web. they know that the rest of the world is out there. for kids who don't fit into that, who don't want to grow up in maybury usa and feel this is not who they are and want to get out they are bullied, ostracised
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and alienated. they don't know what to do or have coping mekanise ms. in a small town what do they do with a feeling, "i need to get out and find people like me." they don't know what to do with the anger and frustration and look at the students around them and don't have the ability to escape. it results in a violent out instead of working it out on a daily basis. >> it's tragic to hear that story, leaning to the horors we are seeing. ron, a pattern - they happen in public schools, at a public school. is there a reason the private schools seem to be less vulnerable to the tragedies or is it the law of averages at work with 10% of american students going to private schools? >> it's a good questions. the vast majority of private schools have a strong election process of letting children in.
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behaviour is a large piece of that selection process. >> is that totally true? you have a lot of private schools that will take anybody whoa pays. par okayial schools are open with admission policies. >> not if they come in with a history of violence or weapon use or history of acting out behaviour. those kids are weeded out before they are let in. if any kind of slight behaviour that shows that they are showing any externalalising most of the schools do not keep the child and have the prerogative to do that. public schools do not. that is a major issue. the other thing is that public schools - because they are public and open to everybody, they can't control as well what is happening in the community. unfortunately, we do know from state surveys, and from interviews and research with kids and teachers, that in these public schools, the kids are
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actually telling us in the surveys, they are telling their peers and parents that they are bringing in weapons, and that is an area where we could have a prevention down the line, and so there is hope in the public schools to do something. >> talking about prevention, it seems like it's always after the fact, we hear the stories about the warning signs that the kids showed. in some cases they threatened to kill kids. and somehow the information is not getting out. it's happening with older people with mass shootings, if you go to aurora and tucson. why is the - is the system not set up to react to the warning signs? >> well, it's a difficult cost benefit analysis between prevention and the rights of the person with the suspicious behaviour. we call it leakage, the clues - some conscious, some subconscious, about their ideas
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on fantasy, violence and so on. in aurora they were clear. the psychiatrist was bound by doctor-patient privilege. so often there are protocols where all they can do is refer the student to the counsellor. >> the signs were there with the navy shooting. >> there's protocol on how to protect the rights of the potentially ill or violent. until they do something, there's nothing you can do. you can physically remove them. it's not illegal to have fantasies, but the best you can do is get a fantastic social workers and try to run an intervention. to the credit of the people on the front lines, we have no idea how many school shootings have been averted. >> what do you tell parents, teachers? >> i have a slightly different approach. our society is trying to look at how do we find the shooter or profile the person. what i'm concerned about is
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already for 15, 20 years the center for disease control, california asks students in the 5th, 9th grade, "have you brought a gun to school? have you seen a gun at school?" and every year statistics are similar. we know - we don't have to identify necessarily the person. i think the first step is not to identify the kid who wants to kill somebody. i think we need to reduce the number of guns. we can all agree on that in middle and high schools. that is not talked about in our country. we look for the shooter and forget that there's a control, 6% of the kids bring guns and calve up to, depending on -- california, up to - depending on the school 25 to 30%. and 25 to 30% of kids see a gun. those kids know who are the other kids bringing the guns. we need systems to convince the kids that they are not snitching
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on friends. they are saving their friends lives. if we do that, we don't have to look for the profile, we can find the kids and do the prevention. in the thousands of schools that are thwarted shootages, that is what happened. kids came forth and the adults knew how to react and they've saved lives. we don't get those reported on in the media. it's a shame, we can learn from the schools. >> ron avi astor, and casey jordan, we appreciate you coming in and talking about this. time to check the stories trending on the website. let's check in with social media producer halling harmeli aregawi. . >> the story trending is young children doing studies, for money. i looked into it, but i was scared of the side effects. this is how people like 21-year-old alias are getting cash. he needed money to buy his
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girlfriend an engagement ring. he signed up to be a test subject for an antidepress able to. it didn't matter that it could cause suicidal tendencies, psychosis or insomnia. this is part of young people signing up to beginee pigs. some trials pay $2,000 or more. risks can be high, some subjects suffering life-long health effects. and viewer johnny warren says: and for everett: thank you both for joining the conversation. you can read more at the website. . $800, a lot of money for a college student. >> coming up - the amazing story
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of an islamist extremist joining anti-jihadist. >> area 51 and aliens - we look at america's greatest conspiracy theories with author brad meltzer. and are older kids smarter than younger siblings. the study that could have first borns saying, "i told you so."
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despite 12 years of the u.s. war on terror, islamist moves are active and growing around the world. unfortunately a dive into this reality is not a one-way trip.
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>> maajid nawaz joined hizb al-tarir at 16. the goal was a world-wide muslim callet fact. >> for 13 years of my life i considered america my enemy. i worked diligently to overthroe governments, recruit army officers and instigate military coups. >> after being arrested and suffering a 4-year term in an egyptian prison he emerged a changed man. he is the founder of a think tame to build grassroot change for this culture. >> i talk now to maajid nawaz, the author of "radical: my journey from islamist extremist to a democratic awakening." he is the liberal democratic member for parliament. it's a pleasure to have you here. >> thank you. >> you came from a family that
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was nod fundamentalist. your mum was born and grew up in britain. you were, by all accounts, as normal a british child. you loved hip hop, but then something happened. >> as a teenager i experienced violent racisement. i mean hammer attacks, screwdriver attacks, machete attacks by a group known as 18. i had white friends growing up in essex, a county next door to london. they'd hold me back and force me to watch as they stubbed my white friends. they deemed them blood traitors for associating or befriending me. at the same time i have to emphasis u.k. is no longer as racist as it used to be. the troubles have significantly progressed since then. there was the bosnia genocide. that was the first time we saw white blond haired blue-eyed
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muslims slaughtered because of their faith. until that point i associated my problems with racism and we considered the boss nian situation. british muslims decided across the board to say, "well, if you are attempting to wip out muslim presence in europe, we are all muslim." that was the beginning of my awakening as a conscious innocence to associate myself in public. up until that point i was agnostic. it was a vulnerable stage, tender age of 16. i came across a recruiter who pedalled an ideology and convinced me there was a global war. >> you joined ht, you became a leader of the group and you travelled around the world, in pakistan, going to egypt to recruit people. >> i cofounded the group in britain, pakistan, denmark and i ended up in egypt. i was part of a drive to spread
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the revolution abroad. >> you were arrested in egypt and put in hosni mubarak's gaols which had a reputation for being horrific. >> yes. they electrocuted everyone in cairo. people died before our eyes from the wounds inflicted from torture. eventually i was convicted to five years in prison. >> you spent months in solitary confinement. >> yes. >> how was the treatment to you specifically? >> i wasn't electrocuted. i had other british prisoners electrocuted in front of me, based upon questions they asked me. i was beaten, and put into solidary confinement. luckily i was not electrocuted. >> seeing what you saw, normally you think about the people who go through it will be radic
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radicalis radicalised. you'll go out angrier against anyone that did that to you. instead you had a conversion. >> two things happened. one was amnesty international adopted us as prisoners of conference. everything i described happened from the age of 16 to 24. i was young, i was in prison at the age of 24. at the age of 24, it was the first time i engaged with a human rights discourse. amnesty international campaigned for our release. we deemed them our enemy, and human rights generally of my people. amnesty international said, "we may disagree with what the people say, they have the right to say it as long as they are not violent." we were revolutionaries, attempting to bring about military coups rather than target civilians. amnesty international's stance impacted me that it opened my heart. where the heart leads, the had
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the mind will follow. i spent four years looking at the leaders, the as assins, all the way through to the leader of the muslim brotherhood, who i spent evenings with. i spent four years debating, discussing and reading and i essentially grew up. >> that growing up is interestingly portrayed in the book by the way you reacted to 9/11 and years later to 7/7, the terrorist attacks in london. >> you did your research. when 9/11 happened i was on the outside in egypt. since i have spoken at the memorial and visited the site on the last anniversary. visiting the site. a lot has changed. at the time is indifferent to suffering other than muslim suffering. it's an unhuman stance to take. that's where i was.
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when 7/7 happened there was a difference. in prison i started to change. what i witnessed in prison, and the antiwar protests think they failed in the sense they didn't stop the invasion of iraq. they did succeed in impacting someone like me who at the time was in prison, full of rage and anger, wanting to take revenge against the world. when i saw the largest protests were not against pakistan, saudi arabia, turkey or any other muslim society but were in fact in the u.k., and most of the protesters were non-muslims opposing their own government invasion on iraq, it had a profound impact. humanised people i described as the other. >> you go back to london, you received as a here j by ht, but you -- hero by ht, but you realised it was not for you. not only do you leave the group, you go and found groups in pakistan and england to fight
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islamic - islamism is what you refer to it as. >> it's defined as a desire to impose a given interpretation of the faith as distinct from islam. it's the desire for imposition that i term as islamism. i came to realise that islamism in that definition was one of the many grievances. i was aggrieved by foreign policy and others. but islamism was the largest obstacle preventing muslim societies progressing. i was someone driven by a sense of justice. i wanted to continue seeking justice. that would continue to challenge the ideologyies if it was an obstacle. we founded quilliam foundation to act as an extremism think tank. >> a when from a viewer.
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>> a viewer asks - is reduction of drone warfare an effective countermeasure against extremist recruitment? >> so i've been critical of uav unmanned aerial vehicle strikes, known as drone strikes. the reason is president obama - bush's policy can be carrick at tured as desiring democracy at the barrel of the gun. president obama ditched the democracy, but kept the gun. he defined the problem as al qaeda. he felt if he decap tated the leadership by surgical strikes and drone strikes he'd deal with the problem. we are dealing with a phenomenon, inurgency, ideology. the phrase they used in the barack obama administration is al-qaeda-inspired terrorism. al qaeda is the end product of decades of extremism within the middle east. >> you write in your book and
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say, "you can't kill an idea, ideas are bulletproof." >> what is it that the united states can do and other moderate muslims do, can there be more organizations like quilliam foundation. >> you hit the nail on the head. if we look at the combination of what has happened, al qaeda achieved more since the death of osama bin laden than they did during his lifetime. they controlled territory in north mallie, yemen. they physical controlled territory. the surgical strikes, the assassination, targeted killings did not achieve what we wanted - to do away with the brand. our job should be the make the ideology of islamism unattractive and unappealing. >> we wish you the best in your efforts. it's an incredible book. we congratulate you on what you are doing. >> thank you for your time, maajid nawaz.
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ahead - are first-born kids smarter than their siblings. and later - what really happened to the famous robber in the sky. we review the shocking death-bed confessions when we look at america's greatest conspiracies next.
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>> this show tries to conventional wisdom, sometimes it is the truth - as in the eldest child being smarter than younger siblings. school performance is proportional to your place in the family. more than a third of first borns was listed among the in the
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class. researchers thing it comes down to parenting. parents are more relaxed pore lazy as each child is born. another is that parents have more time to spend with the oldest - after all there are fewer kids to pay attention to. a genetics-based theory is later kids don't get the genetic indalment that the first or second kids get." older kids benefit from the ability to teach younger siblings. on the other hand one of the top five rich people in america is an oldest child. neither of the famed koch brothers are first born. more that a third of our president's, 15, were the oldest or oldest. and just five were the youngest. it should be noted the last three presidents are first born or only children. as the oldest of six kids i like
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to think there would have been more of us as president, but the eldest child is smart enough not to run for office. >> coming up did john wilkes booth live another 40 years after assassinating abraham lincoln. we run down great conspiracy theories next.
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>> americans are fas nated by conspiracy theories, we are a month away from the john f kennedy assassination and decades away from the roswell nearies. the book "history decoded," 10 greatest conspiracy brings you the facts and theories on fascinating mist ris. take a look at the book's trailer. yes, the book has a trailer. >> "history decoded" - counting down the top 10 greatest conspiracy throughout history. a chance to go deeper into the
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greater mist ris. >> what if i told you after murdering president abe lincoln, the most famous assassin lived for 40 years. fort knox is empty. 40 million americans have seen or know someone who has seen a ufo. >> introducing a new investigation into the truth behind the kennedy assassination. >> i can feel it. >> brad meltzer wrote the book, and host of "decoded." good to see you. you've made a career writing novels about conspiracy nearies, this was ipp spired going back to something that happened in 11th grade. >> i was in mim yea, the history teacher said, "we'll see a movie", you are like, "i'm happy, i'll see a movie", she
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puts on a jfk onspir si film, not a cooky, crazy one, but one that lasts thoughtful logical questions, i remember watching it saying, "wait, you are telling me this could have been a set up." it's like the foundations of my brain were kicked there. it changed my life. when we did the book i dedicated it to my history teacher from 11th grade. >> you end the book with the jfk consass nation, your number one conspiracy. one of the things you do is include historical documents that people can pull out and look at the copies of these things. one of things you have there is a telex showing that lee harvey oswald had been tracked by the government well before the assassination. >> we wanted to not just count down the top conspir circumstances but show the evidence. let's talk about that. here is the jfk chapter.
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open the flap and you pull out the evidence and get - here is jfk's death certificate. you read that. you get the telex from the state department saying, "here is lee harvey oswald, he's renouncing his american citizenship", the government knows about him years before jfk was shot. what i love is history comes to life and you get to make the decision. >> it is fun to pull out the documents. on the jfk conspiracy, you come across as a sceptic that there was another shooter involved. you put out all shorts of evidence on both sides, you put out the arguments. in the end do you think you'll convince anybody? >> this is what i think. everyone has their own idea. once you plant the seed of doubt it's hard to warrant. our house select commission
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doesn't agree with each other. if our own government doesn't agree, what hope do we have. >> a book came out in the news where they are talking about jfk's brain. i had no idea that jfk's brain was not buried with jfk. and the book says bobby kennedy stole the brain from the national archive - something you wrote about. >> it's written by my friend, james swanson. i blurbed the back of the book. the amazing part of the story is kennedy stole another kennedy's brain. it's like a 1960s horror movie. what they found was jfk's coffin is missing. when the coffin was moved it was nicked. they wanted a pristine coffin. they bought a new one, what do you do with the original. they threw and dumped it into the sea. national archives told me the
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story. i said, "this is unbelievable." >> i'm about as not a conspiracy theory guy you find. when you hear these things you understand why so much noise and there's so much confusion because there's so much stuff. in the end my question is how does a government that can't keep a secret for two days keep a secret about anything like this for an extended period of time. >> that's is the right question. they are good questions to ask. you want to know what did lee harvey oswald do in two years in russia. to me how did jack rooubic get past the police and waltz into the station to shoot lee harvey oswald. they are the right ones. but to me the telling moment of jfk - here is my theory. when you look at the 1960s historically, we thought ta jfk was killed by the rush jps, the cubans, this was the cold war. >> the mob. >> we thought it was the
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establishment. we thought it was rich millionaires in texas. in the '70s, it's a time of vietnam. we thought our own government killed kennedy. in the "80s, as the god stepfather movies came in, it's the mob. decade by decade. it's whoever we are most afraid of. >> another you address, area 51, ros walled, the ufo incident where the alien body was taken to area 51, the secret base in nevada. news on that this year. documents were unclassified and the government actually was a little more open about what they do in area 51. how - again, almost 70 years later why are people believing it. did the government have incentive to keep any of this secret if it had happened. >> the interesting part to me is a great conspiracy comes from fear. something we don't want to face. the idea that we are not alone
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in the universe is terrifying and enthralling. that is where theories come up. what i was focused on was don't give me the crazy person, i thought what was fascinating - ronald regan saw a ufa and jimmy carter. they are the president's of the united states. i was fascinated and put in the book the original roswald report. show me the report of what the guy said he saw. you can see the redacted and what is there - read it for yourself. that's what we want to read. >> the government did a lot of things that made people - gave people licence to come up with the crazy ideas because they weren't open about as much of it as they should have been. gold fort knox. that is almost as certain as death and dams. >> here is the crazy part. this is where honestly i come out on the other side. my goal is to give me the facts. the last time anyone saw the
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gold in fort knox was 1974. that's a long time ago. i went there, i got asked to speak at fort knox and met a great colonel. he was, "we'll get you in." the treasury department shut be down. we went to senator huddle ston from kentucky, who was there when they let people in to see the gold and he said, "i don't know if there's gold in there." the security guard said, "my gun had no bullets because it was empty." >> no public audit since 1974. it's not significant. >> exactly. >> it wouldn't put a dent in the u.s. debt. >> the point is it's emotional as all conspiracy theories are. >> great story. dd cooper who hijacked an aeroplane, jumped out. we think we know who the guy was and he survived the jump.
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>> it was our near of who he was. he goes on a plane and says give me $200,000, four parachutes and jumps out the back. the only unsolved skye jacking. we found kany christiansen - he's on his death bed. he says to his brother, "i have something to tell you, i'm embarrassed." highs brother looks into his documents. he finds a north-west pilot attendant. digging difference for a living. he has a bank account with over $150,000. >> he was a paratrooper, he could have made the jump. >> he was military training. >> you start with john will ks booth. this is interesting. i had no idea there were theories about the fact he survived. you come up with two characters, one who was mummified and sent around the world as part of a circumstance us act for years, but another guy - you put his
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will, john b will ks. >> which is the worst fake name for a fake identity. >> who moved to india and left money to john wilkes booth kids. >> a couple of years ago i get a phone call from a lawyer saying i represent the family of john wilkes booth and they have a story. the story was he did not die in a barn in maryland. he lived, escaped and went tonne have a great life and he's not the one in the coffin, do you want to hear our story? yes. what we did in the book is show people the will. you can read where he left the money to, but see a key detail. it's not signed. that's where you say, "is the story true?" >> there has been attempts by dna to determine whether it was booth or not. those attempts have been rebusted by judges.
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exclamations by his brother. >> i healed john booth's bones in my hand. you can do the dna test and match on his brother. the government says, "no." you have to stop and say, "why not just say yes? ". >> why do we care so much about the theories, and why do you think people want to believe? >> i think we want to believe these things to make sense of universe. it's no surprise whether it's after a terrorist attack or the boston bombings - whatever it might be, whether it's jfk or 1865, abe lincoln dying. it's moments where parts of our psyche is shaken. we want something to blame it on. on one day, lee harvey oswald, a guy that's a drop out could jack-knife the government - that's a scarier thought. >> it's scarier than not trusting your government,
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thinking they could be doing nef airious deeds. >> i say governments don't lie people lie. find the people and you find human answers. they won't sit in a chair stroking a cat trying to take over the world. you'll find amazing stories. people want to find the secret truth and don't want to admit it's reality. >> people alive don't keep secrets. >> especially in washington. could anyone keep a secret for two days. >> the book is a fun read. great to see you. "history decoded" is on bookshelves. brad meltzer, a pleasure to have you here. >> the show may be over but the conversation conditions on the website: >> you can also go to twitter. see you next time.
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good evening. welcome to al jazeera america. i'm john siegenthaler in new york. >> u.s. counterterrorism operations are precise. they are lawful and they are effective. >> these and other killings documented in the report may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes. >> defending drones - the barack obama administration rejects accusations from human rights groups who say too many civilians are dying in drone attacks. >> ban lifted - facebook reverses policy on posting violent content. the reason behind the change. >> destructive wildfires

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